For Martina McBride, new label is like a new start

Martina McBride has played a lot of fairs in her 20-year career, including The Great Frederick Fair in 1998.

The country singer-songwriter will take the grandstand stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. And if she gets a hankering, you might find her munching on a corn dog, one of her favorite fair foods.

Right now, McBride is between albums. Her 11th album, "Eleven," was released in 2011 and included the hits "I'm Gonna Love You Through It" and one of the six of 11 tracks she co-wrote, titled "Teenage Daughters," a song about the travails of raising teens.

In 2010, McBride left her longtime label, RCA Records, and signed on with Republic Nashville, part of Big Machine Records. It was the label's Scott Borchetta who encouraged her to get away from Nashville and family obligations for a short while to write and record the songs for "Eleven." Every other album, including her upcoming 12th album, were recorded in Nashville.

The label change has re-energized her. "It feels like starting over me -- but with a track record and with the success and experience I've had over the years," she said.

The tracks on "Eleven" range from McBride's familiar country sound to a little R&B and island rhythms. The label change and change in album producer surrounded her with new ideas and thinking outside the box, she said.

McBride said she won't be writing as many songs for the upcoming 12th album, which she hopes to have out in February. She's still flushing out the direction she wants the next album to take. And she will record it in Nashville.

At home there, she wears several hats, including wife and mother.

McBride says she is a mom first and artist second and managed to work her career around family responsibilities. And she's managed it pretty well, as recent rounds of country babies have their performing parents naming her as a role model as to how to mesh family and a career in music.

"It's hard. I thought it would be easy," said McBride on raising three daughters while building a career. "Looking back, you have to make decisions about your career and start including that other person. For instance, once my kids got into school I couldn't tour overseas and be gone for two to three weeks. Or touring the West Coast" was challenging. She said it's especially hard for women.

"But on the upside, I have three beautiful, happy, healthy and well-adjusted daughters," McBride said. "A career doesn't last forever but family does."

Her advice: "Make decisions that work for your family life."

That's worked for her, with a career that spans 20 years. Growing up in Sharon, Kan., McBride's family had a country band that played regionally. Looking back now, she said that was a good experience and fun, and one that helped her hone her music skills and her powerful soprano voice.

McBride's fair show will include some covers of other artists' songs but will be packed with plenty of songs from "Eleven" and her long list of hits, including "My Baby Loves Me The Way That I Am," "This One's for the Girls," "Wild Angels," "Broken Wing" and her signature song, "Independence Day."

"I love singing that song," McBride said.

And next year she will join George Strait's "The Cowboy Rides Away Tour." While "the King" may be retiring from touring, McBride said retirement is not in her future.

"I still have a lot of music left to make. I have a lot of ideas," she said. "I have about seven albums in my head," including gospel and big band music albums.

She has a couple of other projects in the works, too. She's working on a home entertaining book, that will include some recipes, that she hopes to have out in the fall/winter of 2014. She's been involved in the design process of a home decor line that she expects to be available in a couple of months.

And she is excited to see where life will take her three daughters. Her oldest, Delaney, is a college freshman, attending a school not too far from home. Emma is learning to drive and wants to be an actress. Ava, the youngest, is 8.

While none have expressed an interest in following in their parents' musical footsteps (she and husband John McBride own Blackbird Studio on Nashville), McBride said, "I think they will enter into the arts in some way."

Martina McBride

7:30 p.m. Sept. 14

Great Frederick Fair, 797 E. Patrick St., Frederick

Tickets are $52 reserved track seats and $47 for reserved grandstand. Ticket prices include paid gate admission to the fair.

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